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30 Mar 2006 : Column 1182W—continued

Hamas

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is on (a) dialogue with and (b) funding of the incoming Hamas-led government in the Palestinian Territories; and if he will make a statement. [62218]

Mr. Straw: We support the approach set out by the Quartet (US, UN, EU and Russia) on 30 January, which said that the Palestinian Government must be committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous international agreements and obligations.

I also refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Middle East, (Dr. Howells), to the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale West, (Mr. Brady) on 13 March 2006, Official Report, column 1908W.

Madagascar

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether ministerial visits to Madagascar are planned in the next 12 months. [62361]

Ian Pearson: No ministerial visits to Madagascar are currently planned.

Nepal

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received on (a) the security situation, (b) promotion of democracy, (c) press freedom and (d) civil liberties in Nepal. [62178]

Dr. Howells: I have not received any direct representations on Nepal in recent months on the issues of security, democracy, press freedom and civil liberties. However, my Department regularly receives visitors from a wide range of organisations and backgrounds, who come to raise these issues with us, among many other related concerns on Nepal. Since the beginning of this year we have received the following such representations: the Trade Union Congress who met my hon. Friend the Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs (Ian Pearson) on 15 February, Dalit Solidarity Network on 9 February, Action Aid on 8 February, National Peace Campaign on 1 February, Sushil Pyakurel (former Commissioner at the Nepalese National Human Rights Commission) on 24 February, Liz Philipson (an academic funded by the Department for International Development) on 22 February, the Ganesh man Singh Academy on 14 February, International Crisis Group on 10 February and Peace Brigades International on 7 February. We also regularly answer letters from Members about concerns raised by their constituents, many of which raise these issues.
 
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PRISM

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 March 2006, Official Report, column 575W, on PRISM IT systems, whether all the posts referred to in the answer can now (a) access their suppliers and (b) approve purchases; whether the software rules granting access to accounting processes have been rectified in all cases; and if he will make a statement. [62618]

Mr. Straw: Most of these posts will start using PRISM from 3 April, although Islamabad, Kabul and Tblisi have elected to go live in May. Rigorous testing is under way to guarantee that they can access their suppliers, approve purchases and are able to access the full accounting processes they require.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 March 2006, Official Report, column 574W, on PRISM, what share of the responsibility he considers (a) his Department and (b) the supplier had for not anticipating the problems faced by posts using satellite communications; and if he will make a statement. [62625]

Mr. Straw: It was expected that PRISM performance would be slower at satellite posts. For this reason, Cape Town, a satellite post, was chosen as a PRISM pilot ahead of the main rollout. This post was able to use the system effectively, as were many satellite posts in the early rollout to Europe and the Americas. However, as the rollout progressed, it became evident that performance was poorer at more satellite posts than was acceptable.

The interaction of PRISM and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's communications infrastructure is complex. We have worked closely with the supplier, Capgemini, to consider how to deploy PRISM over our infrastructure. We continue to work with both the supplier and Oracle to analyse and address performance problems. It is not a question of apportioning blame, but of working together to improve performance.

Rendition Allegations (Inquiries)

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his written statement of 20 January 2006, Official Report, column 38WS, on rendition allegations (inquiries), if he will name the individuals involved in the two cases in 1998 where the British Government agreed to a request from the US authorities to render a detainee through UK territory or airspace; and through which UK airports they were transferred. [62721]

Dr. Howells: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Selby (Mr. Grogan) today (UIN 63076).

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his written statement of 20 January 2006, Official Report, column 38WS, on rendition allegations (inquiries), if he will name the individuals involved in the two cases in 1998 where the British Government agreed to a request from
 
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the US authorities to render a detainee through UK territory or airspace; and through which UK airports they were transferred. [63076]

Dr. Howells: In both cases the individuals were transferred through the UK in order to stand trial in the United States. The cases were as follows:

Reparations

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much is owed to the UK in reparations following the second world war, broken down by debtor country. [62275]

Mr. Straw: The Government has resolved state damages claims arising out of the second world war with former Axis countries and with Austria. Nothing is owing.

Sudan

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the timetable is for the peace agreement in Sudan to be signed. [62157]

Ian Pearson: At the African Union's (AU) Peace and Security Commission meeting on 10 March, the AU called for the parties to the Darfur conflict to reach a peace agreement at the talks in Abuja, Nigeria, by 30 April. We agree with the AU's emphasis on the urgency of a settlement and are working with the parties and the mediation to ensure that a comprehensive and sustainable peace deal is reached in Abuja. The UK is providing more than £l million and a number of experts to support the talks.

A comprehensive peace agreement ending over twenty years of north-south civil war was signed on 9 January 2005.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received on the peace agreement in Sudan. [62158]

Ian Pearson: We hold regular discussions with the Sudanese parties, the African Union and key international partners on both the need for a peace agreement in Darfur, and the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) in Sudan. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary addressed the Darfur peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, on 14 February during which he made clear that we expected the parties to make much faster progress. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development held detailed discussions with the Government of Sudan on the need to reach a peace deal for Darfur and fully implement the CPA during his visit to Sudan on 21–23 February.
 
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Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the UN on security in Sudan. [62159]

Ian Pearson: We hold regular and ongoing discussions with the UN on security in Sudan, both in New York and in Sudan. On 24 March the UN Security Council passed resolution 1663, renewing the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sudan. The UN Secretary General's special representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, briefed the Security Council on the situation in Sudan on 21 March raising his concerns about the security situation in Darfur. The international community is clear that the security situation in Sudan, especially Darfur, must be improved as a matter of urgency. We have therefore supported the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission through the north and south of Sudan, and the African Union mission in Darfur.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of levels of violence in southern Sudan. [62160]

Ian Pearson: We are concerned by reports of ongoing violence in southern Sudan, particularly recent attacks against the UN in Yei and Yambio, in which one UN employee was killed. We utterly condemn these attacks and have made clear that those responsible must be brought to justice. We continue to press both the Government of National Unity and Government of South Sudan to implement the comprehensive peace agreement, which provides the best hope for peace throughout Sudan, and to work closely with the United Nations mission in Sudan to extend the rule of law throughout southern Sudan.


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